Yo mama's so rich, she's got her own ZIP code because our country is highly segregated by wealth and she doesn't like living near poor people.
The map shows the top 3 ZIP codes in each state, and the bottom graph lists the top 100 ZIP codes overall. (click to expand) (via Experian)
The "yo mama" line at the top of this article is barely a joke, because not only are many of these ultra-rich ZIP codes very homogenous (i.e. rich people and rich people only), they're also very small—even when they're in the middle of New York City proper, where 8.4 million people live in 305 square miles.
The map itself only lists the top 3 ZIP codes from each state, but the bottom chart shows the top 100 ZIP codes overall (which leads to a big overrepresentation of New York and it's tiny neighborhood ZIP codes). As you may have also heard about NYC and other big cities, a lot of poor folks live there, too. Many of New Jersey's top ZIP codes (though not #2, New Vernon) are within a 15-minute drive from Newark...which is not one of the top ZIPs. The richest of the rich spots, however, seem to actually be retirement areas for the super-wealthy, like Miami Beach.
So, where are the poorest ZIP codes, I'm sure you're asking? A lot of them are near military bases or colleges, because although the people who work at those bases and schools make OK salaries, they support the incomes of everyone around them. A lot of them are also tiny and rural. If you only look at ZIP codes with over 20,000 tax returns (which the top map does not do, just to be clear), you find a lot that are right next door to the rich ones:
(via Mongabay, the same data source as the map)
I don't have data for the most average ZIP codes in America, and some light Googling for "most average cities in America" turned up only unreliable-looking information. So, who do we ask? Our nation's huge corporations, of course, who seek out average places to test out new products. Here are the top ten cities Fortune 500 companies use to test products on "average" Americans:
- Albany, NY
- Rochester, NY
- Greensboro, NC
- Birmingham, AL
- Syracuse, NY
- Charlotte, NC
- Nashville, TN
- Springfield, OR
- Wichita, KS
- Richmond, VA
Interestingly, Charlotte, Greensboro, Wichita and Memphis are both "average" cities and contain some of the wealthiest ZIP codes in their state. I wonder what makes these cities more "average" despite also containing pockets of wealth.
In conclusion, let's remind ourselves that the American dream is still within reach for millions of Americans...well, within driving distance, anyway.